Takashi Murakmai's Jellyfish Eyes - Max Shimon In The Strange Forest (2004) .

Takashi Murakmai’s Jellyfish Eyes – Max Shimon In The Strange Forest (2004) .

Fernando Botero's Dancer ll (pencil and watercolour on canvas).

Fernando Botero’s Dancer ll (pencil and watercolour on canvas).

If you plan to visit the annual visual art fair Art Expo Malaysia next week, you might notice something different about it: this year, the event is called Art Expo Malaysia Plus 2015.

“The ‘plus’ represents the improvements to the event in various areas. These include the selection of art galleries participating, the quality of the artwork, the artists represented and the visitor experience. Also, the overall presentation and the printing of artbooks!” says Sim Polenn, Art Expo Malaysia Plus project director, during an interview in Kuala Lumpur.

The ninth edition of this annual art market runs from Sept 10-13 at the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

The Art Expo Malaysia Plus will feature 2,000 artworks of various styles, expressions and mediums, from 70 established art galleries and groups representing over 400 artists from 30 countries.

Art Expo Malaysia is the longest-running art fair in South-East Asia. Unlike other regional art fairs, which charge admission fees, entry to this event has been free of charge since its inception.

“Our objective has always been to promote art to a wider community,” says Sim.

According to Sim, Art Expo Malaysia has grown substantially since it was first started in 2007. The event was the brainchild of art philanthropist Datuk Vincent Sim Tiak Choo, who had the dream of an art fair that would bring together some of the finest artworks from all over the world to Kuala Lumpur, all under one roof.

That year, only about 3,000 visitors came to the event. Last year’s Art Expo Malaysia, however, attracted 22,500 people, and generated RM20.1mil in sales.

“It’s a good event for the whole family. Not many people can travel abroad to see famous art works in museums or galleries. Which is why we bring in all this art at our expense. It’s a good chance for Malaysians to come and admire them,” says Sim.

He added that there would be a wide range of art available for sale, with prices ranging from RM1,000 to RM10mil.

“For collectors, the exhibition can help to highlight trends of what is popular around the world. For local art, usually the participating galleries show all the latest works here. So it’s a good chance for them to come and pick out the good works,” he adds.

Sim also shared some of the highlights of Art Expo Malaysia Plus.

It starts right at the entrance of venue, he mentions. Several masterpieces (including pieces by the late Datuk Ibrahim Hussein and Indonesian artist Kartika Affandi) from the prestigious collection of Ambank Group chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim will be exhibited at the main entrance booth of Art Expo Malaysia Plus. Ambank Group has been the main sponsor of Art Expo Malaysia since 2014. The event therefore is a rare chance for the public to admire these works, which are usually kept in Azman’s office.

Chuah Seow Keng's Rural Life (batik, 2010).

Chuah Seow Keng’s Rural Life (batik, 2010).

 Khairudin Zainudin's Observer In Tiny Coffee Shop (2015, mixed media on canvas).

Khairudin Zainudin’s Observer In Tiny Coffee Shop (2015, mixed media on canvas).

Sim also added there would be a show of the major works from Malaysian contemporary artists such as Anuar Rashid and Ali Nurazmal Yusoff. These works have been loaned from a Malaysian art collector who wishes to remain anonymous.

Additionally, this year marks the first time Art Expo will have works by world-renowned Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero and French-Russian artist Marc Chagall on display.

Homegrown art galleries remain the pulse of Art Expo. This year’s list features well-established and reputable exhibitors as well as new players in the local art scene.

Just take a walk through the exhibition halls and you’ll find loads to investigate, especially with Henry Butcher Art Auctioneers, Masterpiece Auction, Bank Negara Malaysia Museum And Art Gallery, A2 Gallery (in collaboration with Jeth Art Gallery), Artcube, Art WeMe, City Art Gallery (and CAG Contemporary), Core Design Gallery, G13 Gallery, Galeri Shah Alam (in collaboration with The Bauhaus Gallery), Montage Fine Art Gallery, Ode To Art, Pace Gallery, Pelita Hati Gallery Of Art, Richard Koh Fine Art, Segaris Art Center, Taksu, TJ Fine Art and Yahong Art Gallery.

Over 100 local artists will be represented, in a good mix of pioneers, auction-ranked favourites, established and emerging young artists. Look forward to seeing pieces from Malaysian artists such as Datuk Chuah Thean Teng, Datuk Tajuddin Ismail, Datuk Sharifah Fatimah Zubir and many more.

The homegrown gallery highlights include G13 Gallery’s diverse artist roster featuring Calvin Chua, Cheong Tuck Wai, Gan Sze Hooi, Haslin Ismail, Khairudin Zainudin, Nik Mohd Hazri, Nik Mohd Shazmie, S. Dwi Stya (Acong), Siund Tan, Shafiq Nordin, Suzlee Ibrahim and Suhaidi Razi.

Elsewhere, Core Design Gallery’s group show – with themes to change daily – includes Ali Nurazmal Yusoff, Fauzin Mustafa, Haafiz Shahimi, Husin Hourmain, Husin Othman, Husni Osman, Raja Lope Rasydi Raja Rozlan, Shafarin Ghani and Suhaimi Fadzir.

Taksu is also showcasing brand-new artworks by Fauzulyusri, Najib Bamadhaj, Hisyamuddin Abdullah, Gan Tee Sheng, Fazrin Abdul Rahman, Sabihis Pandi, Syed Fakaruddin, Azrin Mohamad and many more promising local talents.

Richard Koh Fine Art bucks the group show trend and will be introducing Justin Lim’s new works – an extension of his current Modern Absurdity And The Superficial Abyss show at the gallery.

Russian-French artist Marc Chagall's striking lithograph, Captain Bryaxis's Dream (1961).

Russian-French artist Marc Chagall’s striking lithograph, Captain Bryaxis’s Dream (1961).

Batmunkh Darmaa's Blue Horses (2015, Oil on canvas).

Batmunkh Darmaa’s Blue Horses (2015, Oil on canvas).

On the Singaporean front, 13 esteemed art galleries from across the Causeway will be participating, making them the second largest exhibitor group in Art Expo Malaysia Plus. These include the Art Front Gallery, Art Seasons, Utterly Art, Kato Art Duo, White Space Art Asia and many more.

The Embassy Zone is also a regular favourite at Art Expo. Here, 11 embassies will each showcase the work of one selected solo artist from its country. Participating are the embassies of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, France, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Mongolia, the Philippines, Romania and Venezuela.

Several international exhibitors will be present to showcase their art. Myanmar will be represented by the Summit Arts Collection, Thailand by first-time participant La Lanta Fine Art, and Indonesia by Puri Art Gallery and Vivi Yip Art Room. Visitors can also visit the Chelian Art Gallery (representing India) and the Simyo Gallery (Korea).

Chamnan Chongpaiboon's She No. 8 (2015, acrylic on canvas).

Chamnan Chongpaiboon’s She No. 8 (2015, acrylic on canvas).

Also on board is Hong Kong’s Art Futures Group, which represents China artist Ren Zhenyu, whose two portraits of late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew raised almost RM2.2mil at a charity gala in Singapore earlier this year.

Also stop by Chit Fung Art, which represents top-notch level Chinese ink masters like Jia Youfu and Pan Gongkai, as well as first-time participant Damina Fine Art.

From Taiwan, the William Art Salon, known for surprising visitors with its exhibits, makes an appearance. Previously, it has exhibited original works by world-famous artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Wu Guanzhong, Zao Wou-ki and Zhu Dequn. Artdoor Taipei will also feature the talented Chen Ying Ru, whose works are well-collected by numerous prominent property developers in Taiwan. And 90-year old Taiwanese Chinese ink grandmaster Prof Li Chi Mao will exhibit some of his latest works.

Spanish art has also been a staple at Art Expo. Drop by Spain’s ATR Gallery Booth, which has always been a favourite for visitors. On display will be latest works of Spanish sculptor Jesus Curia, and pieces by Spanish master Joan Miro. If you are lucky to catch them before they are sold, you might see works by the legendary Pablo Picasso! Additionally, the REDSEA gallery booth (from Singapore) will be displaying works by Spanish master Salvador Dali.

Art Expo Malaysia Plus runs from Sept 10-13 at the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Centre in Kuala Lumpur. Admission is free. For details, call 03-7728 3677, e-mail: info@artexpomalaysia.com or surf www.artexpomalaysia.com.